Though Maine laws mandate certain actions when a student is charged with a crime, school districts are on their own when it comes to deciding whether the criminal charges affect the student’s participation in school activities.

One law requires a district attorney to notify a school superintendent when a juvenile is charged with a crime involving the use or threatened use of force.

Another says that if a superintendent is notified of an alleged juvenile offense that indicates “an imminent danger to the safety of students or school personnel,” the school must convene a “notification team” to review the information. That team includes the school administrator, one of the student’s teachers, a parent or guardian and a guidance counselor.

Windham officials said they convened a notification team and created a student safety plan for Tyrell Gullatt within 24 hours of learning in November of the charges against him. Regional School Unit 14 Superintendent Sandy Prince said they created a safety plan for him and other students.

Normally, most student information is confidential, but the law allows for the notification team to determine which members of the school staff should be told about the charges.

Information about the criminal charges cannot become part of the student’s education record.

However, decisions about how to respond to criminal charges against a student are handled by the individual school district, said Rachelle Tome, the chief academic officer for the Maine Department of Education. Neither the department nor statewide organizations such as the Maine School Management Association or the Maine Principals’ Association offer guidance on how school districts should proceed after a student is charged, leaving local administrators to determine whether to keep the student in school or allow them to continue to play a sport, participate in school activities or apply for awards or honors.

School districts can decide to create a specific action plan for that student. Windham officials declined to discuss what is in Gullatt’s student safety plan.

Jeanne Crocker, acting superintendent of Portland School District, said schools try harder today to keep students in school.

“In lieu of jumping to expulsions – with the realization that everyone needs an education – we want to go to great lengths to find a way to continue education,” said Crocker, speaking generally about how school administrators handle a student facing a criminal charge.

One of the first steps would be to consult with the school district’s attorneys, she said.

“That represents a departure from past practice, which was to sever the relationship,” she added. Today, students can only be expelled by a school board.